Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

     Annabel Greene is the girl who has everything. At least, that's what she portrays in her modeling shoots. But Annabel's life is far from perfect. Her friendship with Sophie ended bitterly, and her older sister's eating disorder is weighing down the entire family. Isolated and ostracized at school and at home, Annabel retreats into silent acceptance. Then she meets Owen - intense, music-obsessed, and determined to always tell the truth. And with his guidance, Annabel learns to just listen to herself and gains the courage to speak honestly. But will she be able to tell everyone what really happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends?
--Taken from the back cover

     Annabel's story of learning to be honest with herself is one that I think many people, teenagers and adults alike, would enjoy and relate to. Dessen's writing, as always, pulls the reader in and is as emotionally packed as real life.
     I can't help but love Annabel. She is not bold, but no overly shy either. She isn't cruel, or touchy. Annabel is the middle between her two very different sisters. She strives to keep the peace, even if that means fibbing about how her day went to her mom. I understand where she is coming from on so many points, and I love how strong she is.
     When Annabel and Owen meet, the book takes a new turn. Together, they learn from one another. Owen is more than what people see and what people say about him. He is sweet and unnervingly insightful.
     The friendship that blooms between the two is great to see, especially as Annabel slowly reveals all that has happened in the past year. Music is the original link that bonds them. As the book progresses though, and they learn about each other, they find they have more to discuss than just music.
     Sarah Dessen expertly weaves her story of truth, finding yourself, and learning what matters with beautiful words. One of my favorite passages comes from Annabel, who, despite the model stereotype, is very down to earth. I now leave you with these lovely words from Dessen's Annabel:
     "The past did affect the present and the future, in the ways you could see and a million ones you couldn't. Time wasn't a thing you could divide easily; there was no defined middle or beginning or end. I could pretend to leave the past behind, but it would not leave me."

Rating: 10

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